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When does a hypo become dangerous?

Discussion in 'Diabetes Discussions' started by martinsoton, May 20, 2009.

  1. martinsoton

    martinsoton · Well-Known Member

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    I have has some big hypos with serious shakes and feeling really drunk. I know there is the risk of comma is a hypo is allowed to go to far. What blood sugar level does this start to occure. I have had a couple of 2.6's but how low can you go before it is too late? Has anyone had experiance of this?
     
  2. hanadr

    hanadr · Expert

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    There's loads of anecdotal evidence about people dieing of hypos. I tried hard to find genuine evidence and failed. It may be out there, but it's certainly not common.
    What do you mean by "coma"? True diabetic coma is caused by DKA and goes along with HIGH bg. It is dangerous. I have seen it once in T1 husband and it's scarey.
    Unconsciousness from hypo isn't so rare, but it's probably not so dangerous, unless you're operating machinery at the time. Most people can function on much lower BGs than 4. 2.6 isn't disastrous.
    Keep some lucozade nearby at risky times and you'll be Ok. I even read that if someone passes out from hypo, the liver will dump enough glucose the bring them round, fairly quickly, unless the insulin dose is MUCH too big.
    This is where Bernstein's doctrine of small numbers has one of its strengths. If you are using minimum insulin, you're very unlikey to get into danger.
     
  3. kegstore

    kegstore · Well-Known Member

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    I don't think there's a specific figure, other than to say a hypo only becomes dangerous when you can't recognise the symptoms. I can feel wobbly at 4, but have also tested first thing in the morning at 2.6 and felt absolutely fine. So it's a moving target, I think the speed of onset has something to do with warning signs - a plummeting bg level is more likely to make you feel bad than a slow drift downwards.

    My worst hypo involved writing off my car, on arrival at A&E (unconscious obviously!) my blood was at 1.1, so that was a bit scary. I don't drive anymore in case anyone was wondering!
     
  4. totsy

    totsy Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    id imagine it is different with each person, ive been down to 1.3 and was ill but still awake and on the other hand ive been in the 2s and my legs have totally gone
    same as with everything, we are all different :)
     
  5. davenol2

    davenol2 · Member

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    well a hypo is dangerous when you drive car when you are hypo unaware
     
  6. janabelle

    janabelle · Well-Known Member

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    It is certainly not unheard of for people on insulin to fall into a coma in their sleep and die. It almost happened to me just over 10 years ago. Luckily my husband woke to go to the loo, found me sweating & unconscious and called the paramedics. It was very frightening to realise that if it wasnt for him, I probably wouldn't be here.
    I read somewhere that if you are unconscious for more than an hour with a hypo, you can be left brain damaged.
    I'm always careful never to take short-acting too late at night, and always check my blood sugar before I go to sleep.
    In answer to your question Martin, every hypo should be taken seriously, and dangerous if you don't treat it. I never leave home without glucose tablets or a bottle of lucozade; that's just common sense.
    I once had a GP who asked me if I checked my own blood sugar at home, and many who've asked me if I have hypos! Diabetes Awareness campaigns are failing us type-1s, if even medics don't realise that hypos are part and parcel of being a diabetic on insulin. We all live with it, and learn how to deal with it, the dangerous part is mainly other people's ignorance.
    My husband told me fairly recently of a story he read in the Telegraph of a man who was arrested because he was presumed drunk and disorderly. He was diabetic and died in police custody as a result of an unrecognised hypo.
    Jus
     
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  7. Dennis

    Dennis Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi Martin,

    The greatest risk of very low blood sugars is the effect that it has on the functioning of the brain. The brain depends on a continual supply of glucose diffusing from the blood into the interstitial tissue within the central nervous system and into the brain neurons. If the amount of glucose supplied by the blood falls, the brain is one of the first organs affected.

    In most people, subtle reduction of mental efficiency can be observed when the glucose falls below 3.6 mmol. Impairment of action and judgment usually becomes obvious below 2.2 mmol. Seizures may occur as the glucose falls further. As blood glucose levels fall below 0.55 mmol, most neurons become electrically silent and nonfunctional, resulting in coma. These brain effects are collectively referred to as neuroglycopenia.

    (Information courtesy of Wikipedia).
     
  8. bunty

    bunty · Well-Known Member

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    A few years ago i was in hospital with pnuemonia and because i was so ill but the hospital was busy, i was put on a ward for diabetics with severe problems - this ward had a high patient/nurse ratio.

    The lady in the bed next to me was brain damaged. She had experienced many hypos in her time but didnt realise how serious they could be, as she had always recovered and in effect, become complacent. I know this as her sister told me, on one of her many visits and one of the nurses also explained to me what had happened.

    One day she didnt 'come out of it' and her liver didnt 'dump glucose' to the level she needed. When she was found, although outwardly she recovered, she was forever brain damaged.

    The nurses on that ward told me they were always having to patch up and educate diabetics who didnt take their condition and their hypos seriously and i saw for myself how hypo unaware some of those ladies were.

    When i read here that low numbers arent that much to fret over, i am minded of that poor lady, who was in her early 30s and would never again lead anything like a normal or independent life.

    And this lady i mentioned is not a rare case. My good friend, now living in Australia, was married to a Type 1 diabetic who had frequent hypos and not because he was careless but because his body couldnt regulate itself even with a strict regime of insulin and food intake. He eventually had a form of brain damage that altered his personality and again, his consultant assured him and my friend that his wasnt a rare case.

    A low is low if you feel it is low. It is not safe and not mature to try to soldier on with a low reading. Our bodies are not machines and what works one day does not necessarily work the next and we are not in competition with anyone to see 'how low can you go'. As ever, your meter is your guide!

    LOL!

    bunty
     
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  9. cugila

    cugila · Master

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    Excellent post Bunty. So very true !

    Ken.
     
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  10. martinsoton

    martinsoton · Well-Known Member

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    Thanks everyone for the great replys. I have noticed that sometimes when i have hypos i recover naturally, i did not no about the liver 'dump glucose' and admit i was becoming complacent myself thanks for the sobering messages, have really learnt something
     
  11. s10vsb

    s10vsb · Well-Known Member

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    I was arrested for drunk and disorderly and regret posting it on here because of the feed back I got!!! Yes I was drunk, not hypo, however, I was locked in a cell with all of my belonings taken off me without knowing what my BS was, the most frightening experience of my life!!! I've complained to the police, had a meeting at home with a sergeant and told them how important a monitor is to put a diabetics mind at rest and give them chance to either take insulin or sugar b4 being detained so they aren't paranoid about a hypo, especially after drinking 'cos mine drops!!! Had the meeting Monday May bank holiday, told it would be a couple of wks b4 feedback but will not give in til they get a monitor!! xx
     
  12. donnellysdogs

    donnellysdogs Type 1 · Master

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    S10..
    What has this got to do to help the OP...
    Restating your original post, is just going to make this posting which is intersting get clised down...
     
  13. Mr Happy

    Mr Happy · Well-Known Member

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    To be fair she missed out the bits about being rightfully arrested, falling out of the police van, being verbally and physically abusive, ignoring the doctor, giving false information and lying about her conversation with the police...

    This summary will probably be ok!

    Oops, my bad? :evil:

    Sent from the Diabetes Forum App
     
  14. mo1905

    mo1905 Type 1 · BANNED

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  15. donnellysdogs

    donnellysdogs Type 1 · Master

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    Perhaps we can go back to the questioom from OP?
     
  16. sharonValerie

    sharonValerie · Active Member

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    Hi there, I have gone into a coma with values less than 0.6 and i've still be conscious with 0.6. I've had coma's a 2.8 aswell. It just depends on your body when you go low. But very low blood sugar is serious. I had a hypo once on a Tuesday, had now symptions at all, was sitting watching the new at about 11 am on a Tuesday and I woke up in hospital two days later. Unfortunately this has happened more than once. If you feel the hypos you're better off than me. I've been type 1 for over 25 years and never had warning symptons. I also fit when I lose consciousness. Luckily for me I have great doctors and was fortunate enough to have Beta-Cell transplants so I haven't had a coma for almost a year now and I used to have 3 or 4 a week.
     
  17. Mr Happy

    Mr Happy · Well-Known Member

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    Indeed, I think the speed at which your sugars drop can be a factor. A couple of times last week I dropped below 2 and managed it without a problem. On Thursday I made the mistake of going to the gym after a low (was down at 2.4 and had chocolate bar, 2 bananas, bowl of cereal), choc bar half way through gym session and came out of gym at 1.4, had another chocolate bar. Fell unconcious about 10 minutes later.

    I did advertise my diabetes free to a good home on facebook, my lady friends would surely love 3 bars of guilt free chocolate a day!

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  18. LittleWolf

    LittleWolf · Well-Known Member

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    Not diagnosed yet..

    I've passed out a few times out and about but not known what my level was...

    I've woken up in the night with the classic shaking, vomiting and sweating and tested 3.1 after managing to keep some toast down

    Which is why I was confused about lat week. I don't drink often. Never has any volume of alcohol made me drunk in my life so after having two cans of cider encouraged by my boyfriend and starting to feel impaired I knew things weren't right. My eyes were blurry, I couldn't string a sentence together and just felt sort of underwater. So I tested and it just read 'Lo' but I wasn't feeling anywhere near as SICK as I was at 3.1. I could have ignored the feeling and put it down to drink/tiredness but checked and corrected, which almost immediately made me see straight again.

    I could ignore the blurry eyes etc, vomiting and sweating buckets is harder to ignore, however the symptoms produced by the latter were at a higher BG

    In retrospect, I dread to think what would have happened if I didn't correct that hypo or was incapable of testing at all, because I was so in la-la-land I might have closed my eyes and not opened them again (even if I had a rebound high of 19 in the morning >_>)

    Long story short, When you don't realise you're sick is when it's dangerous and of course being unconscious for any length of time is.. Undesirable.


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